Imran Khan sees no hope for normalisation with Modi’s India

by Abbas Adil

PTI chief and former prime minister Imran Khan has expressed a desire to improve ties with India but added that there is “no chance” of this happening while PM Modi-led BJP is in power in New Delhi.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the ex-premier highlighted the potential economic benefits of maintaining trade ties between the two arch-rivals but said these would never be realised until Delhi changes its stance on the Kashmir dispute.

“The benefits would be enormous. But, we are stuck on this issue and we need a strong roadmap to resolve it. I think it’s possible but the BJP government is so hardline, they have a nationalistic stance on issues,” the former PM was quoted as saying.

“It is frustrating as you have no chance [for a resolution] as they whip up these nationalistic feelings. And, once this genie of nationalism is out of the bottle it is very difficult to put it back in again.”

In 2019, the Modi-led BJP government unilaterally abrogated the autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), bringing it under central control.

Imran went on to say that Pakistan had no option but to downgrade its ties with India after it took away the statehood of IIOJK.

Pakistan formally downgraded its trade relations with India in August 2019 to the level of Israel with which Islamabad has no trade ties at all. The decision had come as a reaction to India’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution that granted occupied Kashmir a special status.

US-China ties

Imran told the British daily that if he returned to power he would seek to establish good relations with all countries. The PTI chairman said he would tread the geopolitical tightrope by maintaining good relations with both China and the United States.

“We really need a relationship with both countries. What I do not want is another Cold War situation when we are in blocks, like in the last Cold War we were allied with the United States,” he said.

“The whole of Central Asia, Afghanistan, became out of our orbit. My main concern for Pakistan is how to lift 120 million out of poverty and the best way to do that is if we can have a relationship with everyone, to trade with everyone, so we can help our population.”

Trade with everyone

The PTI chief went on to say that he would seek to establish good relations with all the neighbours of Pakistan including Afghanistan, Iran, China, and the US if he is elected as the premier again.

“We really need a relationship with both countries. What I do not want is another Cold War situation when we are in blocks like in the last Cold War we were allied with the United States,” he said.

“The whole of Central Asia, Afghanistan, became out of our orbit,” Imran stated, adding that his main concern for Pakistan was how to lift 120 million out of poverty.

“The best way to do that is if we can have a relationship with everyone, to trade with everyone, so we can help our population,” he concluded.

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